Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4
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The Last Express is a quite wonderful adventure game. Flawed, yes, but still memorable and very much worth anyone's time. It's a tough game, even despite the iOS changes that have been made, but one that's consistently rewarding.
Set just before the start of the First World War, players control Robert Cath, a doctor who's set out on the Orient Express to meet with a friend. Upon discovering that the friend has been murdered, Cath is thrust into a world of espionage and intrigue. It sounds a little like Murder On The Orient Express but it's better than that.
Throughout the many hours that the game will last, there's a lot to take in. Unlike other adventure games, The Last Express is very open and focuses more on discussions than obtuse logic puzzles. Players can explore mostly anywhere they like, providing it's on the train, of course. Working in real-time, The Last Express does offer some restrictions, purely because the passengers react accordingly for the relevant time of day. There's also the very real problem of missing certain events by being down one side of the train when something interesting is going on across the other side. Fortunately, it's possible to rewind time to choose a different course of action. Another fascinating point in favor of The Last Express.
Each play through feels suitably different and it will take quite some time to finish The Last Express. The luscious if slightly dated visuals capture the essence of the Orient Express well, while the ability to eavesdrop on mostly any conversation adds to the atmosphere.
Due to such flexibility, The Last Express is a pretty hard game although compensations have been made for the iOS audience. A hints system is now available to hopefully aid players in their quest. It takes out the fun though so I'd suggest not being tempted. Character biographies are also made available each time that the player interacts with someone.
Only one crucial problem emerges while playing The Last Express and it's one that affected the original release. There aren't any subtitles during conversations, something which can be limiting and not just for those hard of hearing. As a regular commuting gamer, I don't always like to use headphones, instead going for the silent approach, something that just isn't possible here.
As a direct and faithful conversion, I suspect adding subtitles would have been a considerable undertaking but one I'd have appreciated nonetheless.
Other than that, The Last Express is tremendous. There's nothing else like it, even after all these years. It's an exceptional value and a fascinating story.